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Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Do you Wanna Play With Me?

There is something of a renaissance going on in my house right now. One that no doubt rivals the importance of the rebirth in Europe throughout the 15th and 16th century...or not. A combination of Team Fortress 2 on the PC and my recent console upgrade to a playstation 3 has reignited my passion for video games. Or more specifically...video games beyond World of Warcraft.

I'll admit that one of the factors in choosing a playstation 3 versus an Xbox 360 was a bit of the ol' company loyalty. I mean fuck. I'm not gonna kill myself every day working on these titles only to go buy a system that I can't even play them on. Now that Blu Ray seems to be emerging as everybody's favorite next-gen video format...all the better.

Now that I have one I am more and more happy with the purchase. Here's a couple quick thoughts.

Eye of Judgment:
EoJ is essentially a card game sort of along the lines of Magic (it's collectible, with deck building as part of the strategies). The twist is that you play (with playing cards) and your PS3. EoJ comes with a USB "eye" camera that connects to your console. When you play a card, the "eye" scans it and sends it to your television:

It's really pretty cool, and there seems like a lot of potential here. The game itself is surprisingly good. My only problem with is is that the world it's set in is kinda generic. Dare I say it, but some sort of license would have been a great addition (and selling point). If you have a PS3 and buy this game...check out the packaging it comes in...specifically the pictures of people playing the game:

Eye of Me

I don't remember posing for this picture...but that's gotta be me (the white guy) right? Someone owes me some cash.

The USB "eye" that comes with the game opens up all sorts of gaming opportunities via the Playstation Network. There are a number of titles that are specifically designed to work with this gizmo. Some are more passive (like virtual aquariums), but there are a couple fun, cheap little games that I quite like. My favorite of these so far is a game called Operation Creature Feature (I think it's a 4 or 5 dollar download):

It's got a sorta "lemmings" feel to it. Aside from the novelty of interacting directly with the game world via body movements, it's got a cool visual style to boot. Highly recommended.

I've played a couple more "standard" and "Serious" games as well. Heavenly Sword was pretty good despite the fact that you can't really jump. It's got outstanding visuals and great implementation of the "sixaxis" controller (that responds to how you move it) during sequences that allow you to guide arrows or cannon-balls like a homing missile. It's unfortunate that the final boss fight was kinda a let down...often devolving into a big, blind, button-mashing party.

Fwats also kicked me down a copy of Assasin's Creed. We all pretty much creamed ourselves at E3 a couple years back when this trailer released:

Creed's strong points: The ability to throw people from rooftops (I can't really explain why this is so fun), the Parkour style of movement and climbing, The incredibly intriguing story-line set in Medieval Palestine, working behind the scenes to prevent the crusades, the Hashshashin, the Templars...gripping.

Creed's weak points: Future town. For some reason they take this rich, detailed, medieval world and constantly take you OUT of it and bring you to this futuristic, sparsely-decorated, apartment where your movement controls suck and you get yelled at by a random bearded guy. So lame.

One last thing about Assasin's Creed. Turns out the producer is beautiful. Fwats. Seriously. Hook me up.

I'm not kidding.

Anyway I finished those two epic adventures and now I'm starting Resistance: Fall of Man -- A first person shooter that is in no way influenced by Half-Life 2...except for the fact that it's nearly fucking identical.

Fine by me tho. I love Half-Life.

Resistance (so far at least) is mostly sorta "OK". I mean it gets the job done. Nothin fancy. Plus playing an FPS with a game controller / joystick (as opposed to mouse and keyboard) is like trying to eat soup with a fork.

Finally there is Rock Band. How wonderful it is. I know a lot of people are reporting problems with their guitars but mine seems to work pretty well. My foot-pedal for the drum-kit broke but some super glue, a random metal thing I found at Home Depot and some Gorilla Tape (the strongest tape there is) fixed it right up.

Once again the Downloadable Content is where it's at for me. I LOVE the fact that new songs get released every week. Sure it's a cash-sucking scam when you compare the cost of 30 single downloads to the 30 tracks that come with the game. But fuck it. I'm obviously willing to pay.

The online gameplay is pretty neat too (though nothing compares to bringing a group of wanna-be rockers into a room together).

The standard slam you hear against Rock Band, or Guitar Hero and the fags that play it is that the time spent mastering each song in the video game is better served actually learning the instrument.

No argument from me really. The problem of course is that's true of a lot of things:

Time spent downloading new music (better spent learning an instrument)
Time spent watching music videos (better spent learning an instrument)
Time spent dancing to music in front of the mirror (better spent learning an instrument)
Time spent watching a live music performance (better spent learning an instrument)

My point is that Guitar Hero / Rock Band is really just another way to enjoy music so fuck off and allow me my fun.

Hmmm. I really wanted to tell you a story about my brother but that will have to wait for next time. Till then!




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